Leverage the Power of Pokémon GO at Your Next Trade Show or Conference

Move over, Candy Crush. Pokémon GO is the new favorite pastime for both millennials and older adults. Released in the United States earlier this month and available in approximately 27 other countries around the globe, Pokémon GO has spread through the smartphone community like wildfire — popular enough to cause massive server outages recently that prevented millions of new users from being able to access the game.

In case you’re not aware, Pokémon GO is an augmented-reality game that you play on your smartphone. The game uses your phone’s GPS and camera features to allow you to hunt and capture Pokémon animals in the wild. (To learn more, watch this YouTube video from CNET.)


Photo Credit: Flickr

The most unusual thing about this new app is that users have to physically go outside and walk around – in the real world – to play it. And that’s exactly why consumer-based brick-and-mortar businesses are so excited about it.

The Internet is buzzing with stories telling how restaurants, bars, retail stores, and even churches are cashing in on the current Pokémon GO sensation, using its popularity to garner new patrons.

But could the Pokémon GO phenomenon also be leveraged to boost foot traffic in a trade show or business conference environment?

Absolutely. Here’s how.

6 Tips for Luring Prospects to Your Booth, the Pokémon Way

The Number One rule in Pokémon GO business marketing is quite simple: Give people what they need to continuing playing the game. You can do this in a variety of ways.

  1. Set Off a Lure: If the venue hosting your trade show or convention happens to be designated as a PokéStop (i.e., a specific geographic location where gamers can obtain weapons, eggs, and potions), then you can set off a “lure,” which will attract Pokémon to the area for 30 minutes. This article by Walter Chen provides details on how to do that, and calculates that for only $100, a business can set off enough lures to last 84 straight hours — at a cost of only $1.19 per hour. (You can find out if your event venue is a PokéStop by downloading the Pokémon GO app, or by consulting Yelp, which now offers a handy “PokeStop Nearby” filter feature.)
  2. Advertise Your Pokémon Promotion: In the days and weeks leading up to the trade show or event, be sure to let your followers know about your upcoming Pokémon GO promotions. Be sure to mention it in your blog, your email campaigns, and on all of your social media channels. Obviously, for B2B trade shows or industry conferences, you don’t want random people walking in off the street, so you’ll need to narrow down your potential visitors to include only qualified prospects and existing customers or business partners. You can do this by purchasing geo-targeted ads on Facebook and Twitter, which will limit the ad displays to just smartphones within a 1-mile radius. For your own social media channels, be sure to include the proper hashtags for both your event and the Pokémon game in your posts. Example:

    Come and catch ‘em all!! @balloonfiesta just set off a #pokemon lure at the #B2BExpoNM Booth 116. #BalloonFiesta  #pokemongo

  3. Offer a Place to Recharge: The Pokémon GO app is a real battery drainer, so if you’re lucky enough to have a double-deck exhibit with lots of electrical outlets on the upper deck, you might offer prospects a place to sit down, relax, and recharge their phones — while chatting with your sales team, of course. Alternatively, you could actually sell extra cellphone battery packs or portable phone chargers directly from your booth.
  4. Give Out Poké Swag: Once Pokémon GO players reach a certain level of success in the game, they are invited to join one of three possible teams — Team Mystic (Blue), Team Valor (Red), or Team Instinct (Yellow). Businesses can capitalize on the Pokémon team spirit and rivalry by offering free co-branded wristbands, t-shirts, baseball caps, or other items in blue, red, and yellow to help players identify fellow team members from across the showroom floor.


  5. Offer Discounts/Promotions in Exchange for Traffic: Reward trade show attendees for bringing more foot traffic to your booth. Instead of setting off your own Pokémon lures on the showroom floor, for example, you can entice prospective clients to do it for you, and then reward them with discounted services or limited-time promotions.
  6. Run a Contest: Give prospects a chance to win a premium prize, such as a Pokémon GO Plus wrist device or a Pokkén Tournament Wii game, in exchange for interacting with your sales team in some way — e.g., by participating in a one-on-one product or service assessment or by attending a 20-minute group presentation, etc. Draw the name of the grand prize winner out of a hat at the end of the trade show or conference, and you’ll have yet another opportunity to interact with that person as a qualified sales lead.

Have you used Pokémon GO in a unique way to market your trade show exhibit? We’d love to hear about it! Use the comment form below to let us know what you did and how it worked out for you.

Learn more about marketing at trade shows:  “5 Simple Ways to Market at Trade Shows”

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